Source: http://www.milforddailynews.com, February 23, 2012
By: Brian Benson
Cleanup of contaminated town land behind Benjamin Moore’s Sumner Street property is nearly complete, but a lawsuit stemming from the contamination continues.
Town Counsel Gerald Moody said the town plans to proceed with a suit it filed against Benjamin Moore in 2009 that seeks to hold the company liable for the contamination.
“It will be resolved through settlement or litigation,” he said.
The town is seeking to recoup its costs, including $500,000 in engineering, legal and other expenses associated with the cleanup, Moody said.
The Environmental Protection Agency has spent about $330,000 cleaning up the site and could pass some of that cost on to the town, he said.
The contamination included heavy metals such as lead and cadmium that the town says leaked onto its land in the 1960s or 1970s from property currently owned by Benjamin Moore. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad owned the property then and leased it to a company that put enamel coatings on metal.
Benjamin Moore bought the property in 1999 and has denied responsibility.
The company, which spent thousands of dollars cleaning up its own property, is pleased to see cleanup on the town land, said Robert Kirsch, an attorney representing Benjamin Moore.
“It should give the town even less reason or justification to pursue Benjamin Moore, because at this point, the EPA has come in and addressed the conditions the town would have been legally obligated to address,” Kirsch said.
He said he would like to see the suit resolved or dismissed quickly.
“We’re quite confident that a court would decide the town did have legal responsibility,” Kirsch said.
The town also sued the state Department of Environmental Protection about the classification of the property and how quickly it had to be cleaned up.
That suit would become moot when the state indicates the cleanup work was sufficient, Moody said.
Cleaning up the contamination is “by far the most important part” of the situation, Moody said.
About 700 tons of material were removed from town-owned land along the Upper Charles River Trail, said Allen Jarrell, an on-scene coordinator for the EPA.
The trail is “all clear and safe for people to walk on,” Jarrell said.
The material is stored in a parking lot near Fino Field but should be moved to a New Hampshire landfill within a week, said Lyle Emerson, senior response manager for Guardian Environmental Services, the contractor taking care of the cleanup.